Certainty needed on third level funding
Labour Senator Annie Hoey, and former President of USI said the collapse in revenue from overseas students must be a wake-up call for the sector as it bids for a rescue package, as what is needed now is future certainty on third level funding.
Senator Hoey said:
“The Irish Universities Association is seeking a €230 million bailout package from Government due to the collapse in revenue from overseas students. For years, I and others have warned about the unsustainability of this education model. Using the international student market as a cash cow was never a long-term answer for the Irish third level sector.
“It is nearly four years since the Cassells report was published but we’ve seen absolutely nothing done to address the recommendations and proposals it contained. The two main parties have not stated how they will fund third level education but now we need certainty. Labour favours a public funding model.
“The major financial gap that will emerge this year is a wake-up call. If we have learned anything from the pandemic it is the need for strong state action and resourcing of essential public services. Third level education is such a service, and we are now dealing with the results of government inaction in the sector.
“We can no longer afford to keep kicking the can down the road. Universities and Institutes of Technology will need extra funding this year and into the future, but it can’t just be a stop gap solution. The reality is that international students may not be back for some time.
“We also need to recognise that domestic students are also faced with a very different future in higher education with parents having potentially lost their jobs during the crisis, and the students themselves losing the summer to earn cash to support them through college. Whether the government like it or not their day of reckoning on funding higher education has arrived.”